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Scrum without ICing: What Conscious Practitioner Should know

Numerous interpretations of Scrum make it covered with a layers of something that does not always have the character of icing. Some people refer to Scrum as something heavy, complex, intricate. Meanwhile, at its base is an extraordinary lightness. To understand it, it is worth going back to the genesis of this framework, fundamental values, and those definitions that make it accessible and useful. And this was also the idea of its founders – that SCRUM should be primarily useful.

Why Did We need Scrum?

The genesis of this framework stems from the different quality of work provided by companies, being at a similar level in terms of technology. The factor influencing these differences are, of course, People. Scrum was supposed to organize the process, but on the other hand, to gain – in a positive sense – control over the elements that seem to be uncontrolled – people’s behaviours.

The second factor that led to the development of this framework was frustration with keeping to a long-term plan as earlier software delivery methods geared towards long-term planning. It is difficult to predict all the determinants that may arise, affecting work performance in the long run. Therefore, there was a call for sensible short-term planning.

Another reason was the need to build something to appeal and motivate people. A new approach that will be implemented and followed. Everyone in the management branch already knew good old managerial practices such as Lean or Kanban. The time had come for something that possessed their advantages but it should be free from their drawbacks and had the power of attraction.

Also, not without significance was previous scientific experience of Jeff Sutherland – co-founder of Scrum). It traces can be found in the empirical Scrum approach – perceiving the software development process as an experiment. Also, Jeff’s experience as a consultant influenced how Scrum was thought. Very likely that while being a consultant he experienced frustration at the lack of long-term impact on the process he successfully modified. Each consultant supports the organization only for a certain period of time, then the responsibility is taken over by others. Supposedly, he wanted to create a permanent mechanism that people would like to keep and maintain as valid and valuable. 

The Best Scrum Definition and Advantages

There are many definitions, but one seems to describe best what Scrum is.

„Scrum is a lightweight framework that helps people, teams, and organizations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems.”
Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland

It says that it’s a lightweight framework. It’s not advisable to say that it is a methodology because this term refers to something heavy. The very process of software development is complicated enough that the frame in which it takes place is supposed to be light. The human mind has limited resources, e.g., attention, so we should save them. And this framework is for people, organizations, teams to generate value through adaptive solutions to complex problems.

There are 4 main SCRUM advantages. Scrum is simple, purposefully incomplete, and built upon by collective intelligence. Its rules guide relationships and interactions with no detailed instructions. Some would like to see it as a step-by-step guide. But it’s not  – Scrum is open-ended and adaptable itself. Regardless of who the team members are, everyone is supposed to cooperate, share knowledge and work together to create a good atmosphere in the team.
It’s collaborative, collective process created by intelligent people.

WhAT Every team should know about Cooperation

Scrum is universal and can be used almost in every area. It is incomplete and created for people to adapt it to their needs. However, that doesn’t mean it has no rules.

Five Scrum values cover what every team should know about collaboration as follows:

  • Courage: at the stage of joining the organization, at the stage of cooperation, as well as in everyday life – the courage to say what you think, but also doing it in the right way.
  • Focus: it is advisable to focus on one topic 100% because the human mind has its limitations. Estimations say that when we switch the contexts of our thinking, there is about a 20% loss in performance. Therefore, it is worth trying to minimize the number of contexts which, of course, is not always possible. Scrum does not stand rigidly on the assumption: “you should never switch the contexts,” but do it in the right way. Gradually learn and try to understand new contexts, and thanks to that they will become more and more familiar, as a result swaping them will not be so severe.
  • Openness: towards various views, and other people. Being able to listen to others, enter discussions, and not be closed to ideas other than own.
  • Respect: If there is respect, people are more likely to share their ideas. And that, of course, positively impacts their performance.
  • Commitment: applies to everyone, regardless of the role in the Scrum team. At the same time, it is worth remembering that commitment itself can be both positive and negative.
    Scrum supports positive and minimizes negative commitment – counterproductivity.

The three pillars of Scrum ensure continuous improvement of the process:

  • Transparency:  everyone knows what we are currently doing. There are no secrets – if there is something incomprehensible, we explain it. Thanks to this, we are all on the same page.
  • Inspection: checking how the process is going. And if there is room for improvement, it follows:
  • Adaptation: change, improvement, continuous progress

Scrum Events and Confusion around Time-box

The Scrum Events include Sprint itself, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.


This what often arouses emotions is time-box. Many ask: Is it a must? Does it not contradict Scrum’s flexibility? Certain rules must be rigid to indicate what is effective and what is not. If it turns out that something takes more time than expected by the framework, we should think about what influences it, because maybe we are doing something ineffectively. We can say that this is an ‘average time-box’ that helps us compare ourselves to how other teams work, avoid unnecessarily extension ineffective actions.

Who is Who: 3 roles In Scrum

Scrum defines three roles in the project, each assigned responsibility for the process to run effectively.

  • Product Owner: optimizes the value of the product, manages the Product Backlog
  • Developers: create completed increments and manage themselves. They do not wait for the Scrum Master or Project Manager to tell them what and how to do it, but organize their work effectively.
  • Scrum Master: manages the SCRUM framework and monitors fulfilling the rules, and in case of any impediments, he or she address and removes them.  

Since Scrum does not mention Project Managers, does it mean there is no place for them?
I think that the term Project Manager does not appear in this framework because it is associated with baggage of long-term planning experience. Scrum does not deny the existence of Project Managers. On the contrary, it says that people who play their roles in Scrum should effectively cooperate with everyone involved in the project.

SCRum Doesn’t Work?

We can ask ourselves: Does Scrum work or not? Some say it doesn’t, and they don’t want to use it anymore. Others say it works, but sit on their hands and wait.

Neither of these attitudes is good since Scrum is not a destination but a journey. A constant grow according its rules. The result proved by many teams that mastered this framework and used it with maturity. Regardless of whether in your opinion it works or not, I would strongly recommend you considering:

  • What values (principles) of Scrum translate into practices in your team?
  • Wich Scrum element you and people in your team use, is the easiest/most difficult one? Why?
  • How would you like to start your Scrum journey?

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